Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Post for the Fourth of July

Readers who are following the events of the Civil War during this sesquicentennial year know that yesterday, July 3, marked the end of the bloody three-day Battle of Gettysburg and the defeat of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Today, July 4, is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Vicksburg, when, after holding out for more than forty days, the Confederate Army under the command of John C. Pemberton surrendered the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee.

These two events, together with the surrender, five days later, of Port Hudson in Louisiana to Union forces, are often considered to have been the turning point of the Civil War.

Among the Union forces at the Siege of Port Hudson was the 128th New York Infantry Regiment, recruited in Columbia and Dutchess counties and mustered right here in Hudson, New York. During the first assault on Port Hudson, Colonel David S. Cowles, commander of the 128th Regiment, was killed, and Edward Gifford, younger brother of artist Sanford Robinson Gifford, was taken prisoner. Six weeks later, on July 3, 1863, Gifford escaped and swam across the Mississippi River to rejoin his regiment on the July 4--a hundred and fifty years ago today.

The image above is The Siege of Vicksburg by Kurz and Allison.

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